Apple-Supported Automotive Consortium Releases Digital Car Key Standard

Apple has joined a number of different tech companies and car manufacturers in supporting a new standardized smartphone system as a car key solution.

According to a new press release from the Car Connectivity Consortium, the standard, called the Digital Key Release 1.0 specification, enables drivers to download a digital key onto their smart devices to access a vehicle, that is in place of an actual car key or fob.

“The Digital Key specification was developed in order to create a robust ecosystem around interoperable digital key use cases, including allowing drivers to lock, unlock, start the engine, and share access to their car – all from their smart devices,” the group said in a statement.

More than 70 companies, including Apple, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Audi, GM, BMW, Hyundai, NXP, Qualcomm, and Volkswagen, have joined hands under the Car Connectivity Consortium’s new standard.

Unsurprisingly, the technology focuses on security more than anything else. Your car manufacturer uses an existing trusted system to send the digital key to your phone, which uses close-range NFC to grant access to your ride. You can’t just unlock your car from inside your home, then, but this would also force would-be thieves to be physically present with your phone when trying to unlock your car.

Digital keys would also make it a lot simpler to manage access to vehicles – whether you want to let your buddy borrow your ride while you’re out of town, or allow customers at your car rental business to pick up a whip at their convenience, without having to be present to hand over the vehicle.

A second release of the standard, Release 2.0, is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019, perhaps giving the organization six more months to improve its technology and/or increase its membership base.

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